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Fishing Politics - Northwestern Style

Money is creating fishing sharecroppers.

Chinook Salmon or American Red Snapper, it’s All About the Money

We’re dealing with an issue here–Red Snapper, to be exact. We have seen the season drop from 360 days to 180 to seven. Seven. Bob Shipp, one of the leading scientists in the world about the fish in the Gulf of Mexico, feels it should be taken back to 180 days. In the meantime, the commercial fishing industry is ripe and rich. The issue of commercial anglers taking the heart out of recreation happens all over the country, not just here in our backyards.

Dr ShippOne of the world’s leading scientists specializing in the Gulf of Mexico, Dr. Bob Shipp believes that recreational anglers are negatively impacted by Federal regulations.

“Imagine if all of those folks who fly right over Washington state to Alaska would spend all their money–vacation money, tackle money, hotel money, fishing license money–imagine if we could capture more of those dollars in the state of Washington,’’ Pike said.

Chinook

Tourist money–specifically money that anglers spend on our beloved sport–is something on the minds of a lot of state (and federal and local) representatives, whether they are here or in the Pacific Northwest. If they fish themselves, it doubles their interest. It’s more than political or financial if you love the pull of those fish.

What’s Worth More?

The Pike in question is Washington state House of Representatives lawmaker Liz Pike (http://houserepublicans.wa.gov/liz-pike/).

We just came across a pretty interesting story about a bill the Republican representative has sponsored about fishing; Chinook salmon in this case. But at a very fundamental level, it’s about the physical and cultural impact of two separate aspects of our worlds–commercial fishing for food sources and recreational fishing. The recreational side does not kill nearly the number of fish that the commercial industry does, but the financials being read in boardrooms are not the only issue here. People love to eat fish even if they don’t own a rod and reel.

A study conducted by Bob Loeffler and Steve Colt of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research found that the state spends about $27.2 million more on commercial fishing than it receives in revenue from the industry.

PumpkinDavid "Punkin" Simms stands in front of his Snapper boat, the Miss Sharron.
He caught about 50,000 pounds of Snapper in 2015.

Fish are worth money. And money makes the world’s wheels go around, whether you’re a fan of Bernie Sanders or not. Even socialist societies place value on certain aspects of human life, and fishing is definitely one of those fundamental human behaviors. So what’s more important to society–a kid fishing with a cane pole with his gramps snoozing at the side of a golf course or gill nets in rivers? A seven day Red Snapper season in parts of Florida where the deep reef American Red Snapper are two hours offshore in a $300,000 boat, or a Red Snapper industry owned by one man?



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